A Tale of Two Cities is a 1935 film based upon Charles Dickens' 1859 historical novel, A Tale of Two Cities. The film stars Ronald Colman as Sydney Carton, Donald Woods and Elizabeth Allan. The supporting players include Basil Rathbone, Blanche Yurka, and Edna Mae Oliver. It was directed by Jack Conway from a screenplay by W.P. Lipscomb and S.N. Behrman. The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. The story is set in the French Revolution and deals with two men who are alike, not only in appearance, but in their love for the same woman.
A Tale of Two Cities (1859) is a novel by Charles Dickens, set in London and Paris before and during the French Revolution. With 200 million copies sold, it is the most printed original English book, and among the most famous works of fiction.
It depicts the plight of the French peasantry demoralized by the French aristocracy in the years leading up to the revolution, the corresponding brutality demonstrated by the revolutionaries toward the former aristocrats in the early years of the revolution, and many unflattering social parallels with life in London during the same time period. It follows the lives of several protagonists through these events, most notably Charles Darnay, a French once-aristocrat who falls victim to the indiscriminate wrath of the revolution despite his virtuous nature, and Sydney Carton, a dissipated British barrister who endeavours to redeem his ill-spent life out of love for Darnay's wife, Lucie Manette.
The novel was published in weekly installments (not monthly, as with most of his other novels). The first installment ran in the first issue of Dickens' literary periodical All the Year Round appearing on 30 April 1859; the thirty-first and last ran on 25 November of the same year.
The guillotine (English pronunciation: /ˈɡɪlətiːn/ or /ˈɡiː.ətiːn/; French: [ɡijɔtin]) was a device used for carrying out executions by decapitation. It consisted of a tall upright frame from which a blade is suspended. This blade is raised with a rope and then allowed to drop, separating the head from the body. The device is noted for long being the main method of execution in France and, more particularly, for its use during the French Revolution, when it "became a part of popular culture, celebrated as the people's avenger by supporters of the Revolution and vilified as the pre-eminent symbol of the Terror by opponents." Nevertheless, the guillotine continued to be used long after the French Revolution in several countries.
The Storming of the Bastille occurred in Paris on the 14th of July, 1789. The medieval fortress and prison in Paris known as the Bastille represented royal authority in the center of Paris. While the prison only contained seven prisoners at the time of its storming, its fall was the flashpoint of the French Revolution, and it subsequently became an icon of the French Republic. In France, Le quatorze juillet (14 July) is a public holiday, formally known as the Fête de la Fédération (Federation Holiday). It is usually called Bastille Day in English.
During the reign of Louis XVI, France faced a major economic crisis, initiated by the cost of intervening in the American Revolution (and particularly never-consummated efforts to invade Britain), and exacerbated by an unequal system of taxation. On May 5, 1789 the Estates-General of 1789 convened to deal with this issue, but were held back by archaic protocols and the conservatism of the Second Estate, consisting of the nobility and comprising 2% of France's population at the time. On 17 June 1789 the Third Estate, with its representatives drawn from the middle class, or bourgeoisie, reconstituted themselves as the National Assembly, a body whose purpose was the creation of a French constitution. The king initially opposed this development, but was forced to acknowledge the authority of the assembly, which subsequently renamed itself the National Constituent Assembly on 9 July.
The storming of the Bastille and the subsequent Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen was the third event of this opening stage of the revolution. The first had been the revolt of the nobility, refusing to aid King Louis XVI through the payment of taxes. The second had been the formation of the National Assembly and the Tennis Court Oath.
The middle class had formed the National Guard, sporting tricolor cockades (rosettes) of blue, white and red, formed by combining the red-and-blue cockade of the Paris commune and the white cockade of the king. These cockades, and soon simply their color scheme, became the symbol of the revolution and, later, of France itself.
Paris, close to insurrection, and, in François Mignet's words, "intoxicated with liberty and enthusiasm," showed wide support for the Assembly. The press published the Assembly's debates; political debate spread beyond the Assembly itself into the public squares and halls of the capital. The Palais-Royal and its grounds became the site of an endless meeting. The crowd, on the authority of the meeting at the Palais-Royal, broke open the prisons of the Abbaye to release some grenadiers of the French guards, reportedly imprisoned for refusing to fire on the people. The Assembly recommended the imprisoned guardsmen to the clemency of the king; they returned to prison, and received pardon. The rank and file of the regiment, previously considered reliable, now leaned toward the popular cause.